Several companies have been caught up in the scandal involving the backdating of options, said Aaron Task on Jim Cramer's
"RealMoney" radio show Wednesday. Task, co-executive editor of
, is filling in for Cramer this week.
To list a few, Task said
is down more than 10% on this news,
Applied Micro Circuits
have been hit hard, and
( FDRY), which has also been involved in this as well, has still been performing admirably.
In addition, Citigroup recently downgraded two other semiconductor companies that are in the middle of investigations,
, Task said.
"Executive pay tied to the backdating of options is shaping up as the big scandal of 2006," Task said, while referring back to Cramer's May 24 radio show.
It seems that a number of public companies are being investigated by the Justice Department, Cramer had said, adding that it is a much more serious matter than being quizzed by the
Securities and Exchange Commission
The SEC can fine market participants, or even ban them from the business, but it is always a civil-litigation matter, Cramer had said.
That's a huge contrast to the Justice Department, which can send violators to prison. "If the Justice Department calls, you need a criminal lawyer," he had said.
Some company executives are alleged to have backdated the strike price of their stock options to the lowest price level for the quarter. That way, the executives that were granted the options can bake in an instant profit, Cramer had said.
He had said that when he was granted stock options at
at $3.30 in the late 1990s, "immediately the stock fell, and I was out of the money."
But Cramer had said that he didn't go back to the company and ask it to reprice the options at a lower level. That's exactly what some executives seem to have been doing.
"It's killing me, because I didn't think anyone would do such a thing," Cramer had said.
"I'm a cynical guy. I believe public companies run themselves much like private companies," he had said, adding that the only difference is that public companies disclose what they pay their executives.
"Now I discover that I didn't know what they were paid," Cramer said. "I was dead wrong, and now I'm losing money because I wasn't cynical enough."
Now, a month later, there are more than 50 companies that have been caught up in this scandal in one way or another, Task said.
If you own a stock and see that there is concern about backdating of options in that stock, Task said you should sell that stock immediately.
To see the most recent edition of The RealMoney Radio Recap in its entirety, please click here. This recap is published every day around 3 p.m. ET.
Aaron L. Task is the co-executive editor of TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships.
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